Patience

Since I became severely disabled I have had to become patient: patient when someone says they will do something “soon” or “in a minute” when I, as a clock-watcher, often have to wait twenty minutes. It becomes the Cornish version of “directly” (dreckly) which means when it suits the timescale of the carer concerned.

I cannot use a computer but my friends sometimes use my laptop. They nearly always inform me that their laptop is very different to mine, and tell me what they would do on their laptop…

Yesterday I went with four friends to the family house to watch, on television, my son, Jonathan, marrying Lori in Romania. We hoped to be linked so that they could Skype the ceremony to us. It was quite amusing that the wedding was delayed by quite a few minutes (Jon is always late and Lori says that her mother says she also is always late). In the end we watched the ceremony through Henry’s mobile phone, linked to a laptop. We all enjoyed ourselves and after the ceremony we drank some champagne and then ate our lunch and had some strawberries and cream. We all laughed at the experience of waiting patiently while technology was worked out.

In order to keep a conversation alive people will tell me that their cousin’s wife has MS or some-such information which of course does not really interest me but is a way of keeping communication open. In this nursing home there are many old people in their eighties or nineties who, I imagine, are not great conversationalists. I, at sixty-one, do like a meaningful exchange which is not what some carers are used to.

Patience is required when I am waiting for my bleeper to be answered or when I am expecting a visitor at a certain time. Of course they can be victims of traffic chaos or the phone ringing as they leave the house, or they need to buy something en route to see me. A big difference between me and them is that my life is “busiless” whereas they are often busy people. There are certain individuals who will inform me in response to a phone call or my bleeper that they are busy at the moment and so this accounts for their annoyed tone of voice. I wrote a poem in 1996 called “Busiless”: it really reflects how, in my disabled state (and I can’t stand or walk or read or do anything with only my left hand working, and my brain), I can only think, and mull over my next article! I can’t do, like most people, the washing-up, tidying, writing or reading, etc.

A way I make it possible to be patient, whether I’m sitting in my chair or lying in bed, is to listen to my radio which is always on Classic FM. Some pieces I recognise and enjoy hearing, notably Wagner’s Tannhauser overture. The radio brings me a variety of music and only the adverts bore and annoy me. I am glad to hear the news which is read hourly. The bad news about people missing or murdered spooks me rather.

Someone asked me if I’d always been a patient person; I could not reply but I felt that he recognised how I need to be patient. Of course, “patient” is a word that is used for ill people so I suppose looking at what I’ve written so far, I am doubly patient!

My choices in life are smoking a cigarette or hearing about what my sons are doing. Vicarious pleasures are very much mine. I enjoy visits from anyone as they bring something new to my life. On the days when I have no visitors I usually watch a DVD and even if I’ve seen it before a second watching often brings another view.

I wonder what the older residents of this home would write or say about patience? I have found that often they don’t have many visitors – presumably some of their friends or partners have died and they have not had the opportunity to make new friends.

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